The first Taiwanese relief team to obtain permission from the military junta in Myanmar to enter areas devastated by Cyclone Nargis left for the Southeast Asian country yesterday.
The 10-member team was headed by Dharma Master Hsin Tao (心道法師) of the Ling Jiou Mountain Buddhist Society. The group also included five members of International Headquarters Search and Rescue (SAR) Taiwan and four relief workers.
Hsin Tao, who was born in 1948 in Myanmar — then known as the Union of Burma — to parents of Chinese origin said he “knows the level of assistance the country needs.”
Acknowledging Taiwan’s substantial experience in rebuilding after natural disasters, Hsin Tao said he looked forward to Taiwan sharing that knowledge with Myanmar.
Lu Cheng-tsung (呂正宗), head of SAR Taiwan, said that as a result of visa restrictions imposed by the regime, the group had only sent five members to establish a foothold.
The second group of 35 members is on standby and is scheduled to depart for Myanmar on Monday, Lu said.
The Ling Jiou Mountain Buddhist Society has set up a relief account at Taipei Fubon Bank (account number 715102050001), for donations to Myanmar relief efforts. Donors can also call 02-2232-1068 to make pledges.
More than 100 volunteer workers from the Buddhist Compassionate Relief Tzu Chi Foundation have begun distributing relief aid and providing medical assistance to the victims.
Lin Shu-hua (林淑華), a Tzu Chi worker in Myanmar, and more than 100 volunteers brought relief material to areas affected by the cyclone as quickly as permissible, the foundation said in a statement on Wednesday.
At a meeting at the foundation’s head office in Hualien, Master Cheng Yen (證嚴法師), founder of Tzu Chi, said volunteers and medical workers from Thailand, Malaysia and Taiwan were providing relief assistance and medical aid to the victims.